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1959, The Port of Shanghai: On a clear day even before the first rays of the sun have hit the dock, the international trade hub is abuzz with activity. Numerous longshoremen load and unload ships with ocean freight in bags and barrels, which the shipping companies can easily track due to their smaller size and number. Now, that was 60 years ago.
As the global trade dramatically expanded the markets for both goods and services, today, the Port of Shanghai is the largest port in the world in terms of cargo tonnage. With an endless stretch of stacked containers, the port reverberates with countless trucks and cranes transporting merchandise and cargo.
Although the above scene replicated across numerous ports portrays a rosy picture that describes the shipping industry’s transformation, there is a missing piece in the supply chain puzzle—no real-time container or supply chain visibility.
Even as technologies impact every nook and corner, surprisingly, the digitization level in sea freight is still “behind the times.”
While importers, exporters, and logistics organizations can easily track a $10 Amazon package, they still have a hard time tracking a $10,000 container shipment from Shanghai to Hamburg.
A few years ago, similar were the challenges faced by an ambitious entrepreneur, Konstantin Borek, when he was working for a globally operating carrier in Hong Kong. Borek saw the dire need for digitalizing workflow processes and the monitoring of ocean freight operations. Consequently, Ocean Insights was born in 2012. Back then, most beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and freight forwarders were relying on manual processes to collect and enter data into their transportation management systems (TMS)—a time-consuming, inefficient, and ultimately costly business.
Powering 21st-Century Workflows
Ocean Insights’ story progressed with Dr. Felix Richter, an AIS data specialist and now Ocean Insights’ CEO coming onboard; the newly formed company started driving supply chain management processes of ocean freight along the rapids and waves of digitalization. A supply chain visibility and market intelligence provider, Ocean Insights’ aim was to heed to the call of the ocean and bring forth unprecedented supply chain visibility into ocean freight.
Today, Hong Kong-based Ocean Insights provides a more straightforward way to ocean freight shipping for BCOs and freight forwarders by digitizing the workflow processes and enabling them to track their ocean carriers easily. “We have focused on ocean freight for many years, enhancing the supply chain visibility. Ocean Insights’ strength lies in offering end-to-end ocean visibility; our in-depth knowledge and sophistication makes us second to none,” affirms Richter.
Ocean Insights provides data and a platform to automate supply chain processes and eliminate IT related complexities, allowing customers to gain real-time container visibility.
Real-time supply chain visibility enables faster service interventions, leading to greater on-time fulfilment
The company prioritizes on delivering high-quality data, and its dedicated quality assurance team makes that possible. The team continually curates the data to ensure that the best source of shipment data is available in the market.
With an aim to empower customers to monitor their freight operations on a level never experienced before, Ocean Insights added a second tool, Container Track and Trace (CTT) to its portfolio in 2015. The innovative CTT solution integrates carrier information with actual vessel whereabouts, providing real-time information such as consolidated shipment overviews, actionable details, and port performance statistics to BCOs and freight forwarders. This tool enables them to take action before things go wrong in their supply chain.
Optimized Cost and Operational Excellence
The real-time information rendered by Ocean Insights supports day-to-day logistics operations that enable customers to take smart, operational, and strategic decisions with regard to shipment delays or replacement costs. But how are these benefits objectively measured across an entire organization? Ocean Insights has identified several areas that customers gain to benefit from.
A larger chunk of customers’ savings comes from inventory optimization and Ocean Insights enhances it by providing visibility into real-time transit verification, which can identify transit time improvement opportunities and much more. Such visibility offers validated average transit times to allow data-based decisions on buffer stock optimization and reductions in total network days on hand.
The added advantages include avoidance of detention and demurrage costs, improved operational efficiency, and increased customer satisfaction. When it comes to detention and demurrage costs, most BCOs do not have adequate detention and demurrage accounting systems to track their spending. Ocean Insights compiles data from the entire shipping industry and empowers both BCOs and freight forwarders to integrate CTT into their business operations, allowing them to make informed decisions. CTT helps identify the containers that are subjected to detention and demurrage costs and assists dozens of shippers in proactively reducing it every year.
On the operational efficiency front, Ocean Insights provides accurate cargo visibility, which improves organizational productivity by 15-35 percent and re-directs staff resource hours to higher value-added objectives. “Most BCOs and logistics companies estimate that 20-40 percent of their staff’s time is spent in exception management.
The most significant factor driving a company’s success is customer satisfaction and Ocean Insights leaves no stone unturned to fulfill its clients’ demands. The company shares visibility data with its customers for their direct use or with customer service teams to respond quickly to shipping complaints or inquiries. Real-time supply chain visibility enables faster service interventions, leading to greater on-time fulfillment.
Rendering unbiased, objective, and comprehensible market intelligence is Ocean Insights’ most significant value proposition and its customers’ biggest benefit. It goes without saying that such market intelligence and improved supply chain visibility enable customers to save money in their logistics operations. “The enhanced and effortless visibility into supply chain management is what differentiates Ocean Insights from its competitors. We are unique in that we offer an unparalleled depth of visibility combined with analytical intelligence for supporting decision making,” says Richter.
Ocean Insights’ customer success team is a huge part of making the data integrations possible. When its clients embark on a large data integration project, they often feel they are entering unchartered territory. The customer success team gives them the red-carpet treatment and peace of mind, assuring them that they are partnering with the right team.
Work Culture: The Magic Potion
The success of Ocean Insights’ two tools and its adoption by several logistics organizations is evidenced by the company’s growth. “We will build on this success by continuing to deliver added value to BCOs and freight forwarders,” says Richter.
Taking steps in this direction, they have started applying machine learning (ML) to predictive and prescriptive analytics in order to gain visibility into an estimated time of arrival (ETA) and rollover warnings for a better supply chain risk management. The company also intends to employ container market intelligence (CMI) with on-time performance and transit time reliability tools for enhanced decision-making.
With more than 50 employees and offices in Germany, India, and Hong Kong, Ocean Insights is one step ahead in bringing unparalleled visibility and traceability into container tracking across supply chain processes.
"The enhanced and effortless visibility into supply chain management is what differentiates ocean insights from its competitors"
Richter attributes the success of the company to their work culture. The magic potion of Ocean Insights’ work culture is an amalgamation of “SURF”— Safe, Uncomplicated, Respectful, and Fun elements. Each ingredient is woven together to create a strong organizational culture. ‘Safe’ defines trust and integrity internally as well as toward customers, ‘Uncomplicated’ translates to honesty, which reflects in the company’s business interactions. ‘Respectful’ portrays how employees and customers behave with each other and ‘Fun’ at work is what motivates the Ocean Insights team to get better every day.
“At Ocean Insights, we are “SURFing” along to enhance visibility into ocean freight and improve supply chain management,” ends Richter.
June 13, 2019